Czech International Air Fest 2016

Hradec Kralove, 3-4 September 2016


The Czech Republic is full of little aviation events, each with their own charm, but three stand out in particular. The NATO days at Ostrava are probably the most famous among foreign military spotters, while Aviaticka Pout at Pardubice has gained a reputation among fans of vintage aviation. The Czech International Air Fest at Hradec Kralove presents a mix of different aircraft to the audience, from ultralights and gliders all the way to modern military and 2016 was no different.


The airfield at Hradec Kralove is located just outside the city center and is easily reachable by public transport. The old town itself is a terrific bonus to visiting this airshow. The airfield is part of a business park and is thus part of the economic fibre of the region.


The airfield is home to several aerospace companies and, perhaps most interesting for airshow visitors, the Czech Flying Legends, who operate a Mig-15UTI among others, which is also available for pleasure flights. Another company at Hradec Kralove that is popular with airshow visitors is Heliczech, who operate an AH-1 Cobra for pleasure flights. Both of these were also participating at the show in 2016.


Foreign military visitors to the airshow included the Belgian air force A109 and F-16, plus the SU-27 solo display from the Ukrainian airforce. The Ukrainians were out in force at CIAF, with a second SU-27 in the static park, in addition to their An-26 support aircraft, and two helicopters from one of the show’s sponsors MotorSich: upgraded variants of the Mi-8 and Mi-2. The Polish air force also took part with an SW4 solo display.



Not to be outdone, the Czech airforce participated with a flypast featuring a Casa 295, two Gripens and two L-159 ALCAs, a tactical pair’s routine by two L-159s complete with pyrotechnics, the Gripen solo display, a Combat Search and Rescue demonstration by an Mi-171 and Mi-35 and a solo display by the Mi-35. The Czech air force was also very prominent in the static park, most strikingly with their Mi-35 Alien Tiger!


Apart from these, there were plenty of civilian participants, from re-enactment of World War I and World II scenarios to extreme aerobatics with Marek Hyka. Foreign civilian participant came from the Baltic Bees, French OV-10 Bronco and the Swiss P3 Flyers.


In short, lots of variation and highlights, but unfortunately, the show is struggling. With the two other major shows in the Czech Republic, CIAF is finding it hard to position itself in the market and striking a balance between different types of aviation. Perhaps this is also due to the timing on the airshow calendar, during the very busy month of September. The show faces an uphill battle but it would be a great shame to see it disappear: Hradec Kralove is a lovely location for an airshow.